The 7 Top Causes of Gum Recession and Gum Disease

The 7 Top Causes of Gum Recession and Gum Disease

By Joe McIntyre, DDS on September 08, 2021

Gum recession occurs when the gums begin to pull back, or recede, from the teeth. The condition exposes teeth roots, which are not coated with protective dental enamel. Bacteria gain access to vulnerable teeth roots and cavities may develop at the gumline. In addition, exposed roots are sensitive to heat and cold, so dental sensitivity may develop. The leading cause of gum recession is gum disease.


Signs of gum recession and disease often go unnoticed until the conditions become advanced. Dr. Joe McIntyre, Dr. Dan Whiting, and Dr. Philipp Luschin of Smiles for Life Dental Care in Bridgewater and Staunton, VA, serve patients throughout Harrisonburg. We are committed to educating patients on the causes of gum disease with the goal of preventing recession.

Understanding Top Causes of Gum Recession and Disease

  1. Advanced periodontal diseases: Periodontal diseases (gum diseases) are infections of the gum that break down soft tissue, ultimately exposing teeth roots. Without treatment, the early stage of gum disease, gingivitis, can advance to periodontitis. At this stage, the bone that holds teeth in place can become infected, as well.
  2. Genes: Genetics have been shown to play a role in the development of gum disease. Patients with a family history of gum disease are at higher risk.
  3. Smoking: Individuals who use tobacco products are more likely to have plaque buildup on their teeth, and hardened plaque (tartar or calculus). Tartar is not water soluble and needs to be removed in a professional dental cleaning. When tartar builds up at the gumline, bacteria irritate gum tissue and cause infection.
  4. Aggressive dental hygiene: Overly aggressive tooth brushing, or brushing of the teeth in the wrong way, can wear away natural enamel on the tooth and also cause gums to recede.
  5. Poor dental hygiene: Inadequate flossing and brushing enable plaque to accumulate both on and in between teeth. In 48 hours, the plaque calcifies into tartar and buildup of tartar can lead to gum recession.
  6. Hormonal changes: Variations in hormone levels such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can contribute to the development of gum disease and thus, gum recession.
  7. Crooked teeth: It’s common for people to naturally have crowded, misaligned, or twisted teeth. These misalignments create more places where plaque can hide, build up, and infect the gums. 

How Is Gum Recession Treated?

Gum recession can be treated in a variety of ways. Two common procedures are:

Scaling and Root Planing

During this procedure, plaque and tartar are removed (scaling) from the tooth and roughness on the root is smoothed (planing). Smoothing the root and removing the bacteria provides a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth. 

The Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique

This cutting-edge technique is performed by making small holes in the gums. The gum tissue is then loosened and moved over the receded part of the tooth. There is no cutting or stitching, so side effects such as pain, swelling, and bleeding are minimized. 

Learn More about Our Periodontal Treatments

The team at Smiles for Life Dental Care, with offices in Bridgewater and Staunton, can answer all of your questions on gum recession and gum disease, and guide you toward the best possible treatment options. Call (540) 828-2312 or make an appointment through our contact page today.

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